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Letter: Off-campus Hofstra housing unsafe

Police stand guard as tape cordons off the

Police stand guard as tape cordons off the house where Hofstra University student Andrea Rebello and armed robber Dalton Smith were killed during an armed home invasion at an off-campus residence in Uniondale. (May 17, 2013) Credit: AP

Hearing about the senseless shooting of Hofstra student Andrea Rebello ["Anger and grief," News, May 21], my first thought was not of the sadness of another young life cut short, or the terrible timing with graduation days away, or what will become of the officer whose bullet took Rebello's life. It was, "I can't believe this didn't happen sooner."

The tragedy highlights a problem the university has overlooked for a long time. Because the school refuses to provide a "Greek row" area -- or, house-style living complexes for any organization, Greek, athletic or otherwise on or near campus -- students feel compelled to track down sketchy houses in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Seven friends and I found a house two blocks from campus. The living situation was radically different on the other side of those black metal gates. We witnessed a drug deal in front of our house. Friends from another organization had their house robbed at gunpoint.

The primary responsibility for safety fell to our landlords, and their main concern was squeezing as many dollars out of each house as possible. The owners built false walls in the basement and dining room to create more rooms so they could fit eight rent checks into a four-bedroom house. We were in violation of fire codes and were eventually evicted. I spent finals week my senior year bouncing from couch to couch because I had nowhere to live.

So you have students enrolled at a school that hasn't the slightest clue where they live, because the landlords aren't accounted for in any way, and the result is you have students like Rebello who aren't safe in their own homes.

Alex Strum, Waltham, Mass.

Editor's note: The writer graduated from Hofstra University in 2006.